– Initially, the Chicago Blackhawks
prepared to be without star forward Marian Hossa
for a full two weeks after he sustained an upper body injury on Oct. 27 at home against Los Angeles.
Instead, they'll get him back in uniform three days shy of the two-week mark when Hossa rejoins the Hawks for Sunday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers
at the United Center.
Hossa's first missed game was also against Edmonton in Chicago, which ended in a 7-4 Oilers' win. This time, Edmonton's talented young roster will have to deal with a healthy Hossa.
"We expect him to be all systems go," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville
said. "He was playing at a high level for us and was a big part of our early-on success."
Hossa will most likely skate on the right wing of a second line with fellow Slovakian Tomas Kopecky
at left wing and Patrick Sharp
at center. Reuniting Hossa with Kopecky factors into that combination, as does the way the Hawks' most recent top line combination playing well in a 5-4 shootout win Saturday night at Atlanta.
The top line of Viktor Stalberg
, Jonathan Toews
and Patrick Kane
provided a combined 4 goals, 8 points and plus-6 rating. Toews, who scored twice and had 4 points, also scored in the shootout.
"They had a good night," Quenneville said. "I think all three guys contributed and helped do a little something different. They had the puck a lot in offensive zone time, as well. It's nice to have some production to show for it. It's a good situation. Then to get Hossa back with (Kopecky), maybe we get two real solid scoring lines and go from there."
It should also help Chicago's special teams to get Hossa back. While the Blackhawks' power play is ranked fourth in the League (25 percent), the penalty killing unit has dropped to 13th (85.4 percent).
"You can use him in all situations and special teams take a little bit of a hit without him around," Quenneville said. "He was a force out there (before the injury). He was playing some good hockey, so it's always good to have him back."
Third-line center Dave Bolland
(upper body injury) is also getting close to returning. Quenneville said he skated on Sunday and will likely return sometime this week.
Rookie forward Jeremy Morin
, 19, is also slated to play against the Oilers after leaving Saturday's game with a leg injury sustained while blocking a hard slap shot. Morin tried to return to the ice after getting hit, but had to leave and didn't return.